Versatile and distinctly California in their casual coolness, separates from San Francisco designer Kathleen Van Der Spek have recently captured our attention. Working with soft, drapey fabrics from MicroModal to silk jersey and cashmere, the Tommy Bahama alum creates unfussy, yet feminine basics that are manufactured in San Francisco and can be easily dressed up or down according to your whims. Details such as a hand-twisted belt on a drapey tulip top and gold buttons along the sleeves of a slouchy butterfly blouse ensure that laid-back remains far from boring.
“My customer loves to stand out in the crowd, but look like she is not trying to,” says van der Spek, an Indiana native who moved to San Francisco post stints working in New York and Seattle as a milliner and, later, designing menswear for Tommy Bahama.
Influenced by the Bay Area’s entrepreneurial vibe, van der Spek struck out on her own after relocating to San Francisco with her husband.
“When my husband and I moved to the Bay Area, he began working at a tech start-up. I was inspired by his excitement in working for a small company, building something from the ground up and was also inspired by the many entrepreneurs I have met here. It seemed like everybody had a dream, and they often went for it. I began researching sewing factories, cutters, fabric suppliers and other local designers here in the Bay Area and realized it was very doable,” she says.
Want to peruse the latest from van der Spek in person? She’ll be selling overstock and samples from her previous three seasons, including a selection of cashmere and wool scarves and gloves, during a sample sale this weekend at Conifer. Prices will range from $5-$75 during the event, which also features deals of up to 80 percent off retail from local labels Amy Mautz, Protea and Sust.
Photography courtesy of Kathleen van der Spek